Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Jennifer Wendel, Staff Writer
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, spoke in Chicago last Thursday at the end of the first World Summit of Nobel Peace laureates ever to be held in the United States. His talk on nonviolence was introduced by Sean Penn, and was attended by a small group of K students and faculty.
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 and chosen as the 14th reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Since the 1959 Tibetan uprising he has lived in exile outside of the country and acts as head of the Central Tibetan Administration run out of India. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his nonviolent efforts working to free Tibet from Chinese control.
“He believes we are, as mammals, designed for nonviolence and for nurturing cooperation,” said Liz Candido, the college chaplain who traveled with the group. “If one or two people or a small community participate in non-violence they help break cycles of violence which encourages more people to become non-violent,” she said.
The K students in attendance are all currently in, or have already taken Dr. Anderson’s Buddhism in East Asia class, which helped them better understand the Dalai Lama’s message. His talks are “not just a generalized message on nonviolence, there is a lot of theory behind them as well,” said William Schlaack (K’12).
The Dalai Lama’s message is important for K students. “We’re an institution that places a lot of value on social justice and community organizing and grassroots movements and the Dalai Lama’s point about it needing to come from within and being compassionate to every living thing is really relevant to the idea of creating social change,” said Maya Edery (K’15).
“One of the things students are often left with [at K] is this sense of disempowerment [sic], and feeling like I have all of this information and I have no idea what to do and it’s very overwhelming. He offers an extremely constructive response to that,“ said Candido.
The Dalai Lama ended his speech with a message for future generations said Schlack. “This is your century- you are the 21st century,” he said. Though his own century was fraught with violence, he “has a lot of hopes for our generation,” he said, and is looking forward to watching from his afterlife.